Updated: Mar 16
I’m just like every other girl. I love to laugh and experience life with people that I care about most. I also have an LD and once I tell others this I often get a look. I feel the labels we put on each other only holds us back the special gift that they bring!
In first grade, I had a very difficult time with reading and comprehension. I put so much work in and every day I would continue to get frustrated with myself. I looked around the classroom and it seemed that everyone knew what was going on and I felt like I was in the dark. To me, the words on the page didn’t symbolize anything. It was just printed letters with absolutely no meaning behind them. My mom and teacher saw how heartbroken I was. In my heart, I knew I could do better but something didn’t seem right. We all came to the conclusion that I had auditory processing disorder. According to ADDiitude Magazine, “APD is a diagnosis that encapsulates three areas of disability.” Speech and language pathologist Lois Kam Heymann describes them this way, “The first problem occurs in the brain’s analysis of the auditory signal. The ears hear normally and send information through the auditory pathways to the central auditory nervous system, but as the signal travels, the brain has trouble discriminating between the acoustic characteristics of the sound received. The second problem occurs during the analysis of the linguistic-phonemic auditory signal. The brain has trouble blending the sounds of the letters to understand a word and store its meaning. The third problem involves processing the meaning of language. When one of these processes is interrupted for a person with APD, it causes a disconnect between what was said, and what was understood.”
One day I aspire to be a doctor in physical therapy. Various teachers and even other individuals involved with learning disabilities often discouraged me from being at my best. On a weekly basis, I would get, “Hey girl, are you sure you want to pursue this? Do you know that the test includes identifying every body part?..... It’s a lot of schooling. I don’t think you can do it.” I felt these individuals would use scare tactics to discourage someone me when really, I just learned differently.
Things changed for me once I found lifeguarding. I put in the work to understand the various kinds of rescues and protocols for saving someone’s life. I believe that a higher power like God brings opportunities and people in your life for a reason. My lifeguard family shined a light in me like nothing before! I felt so empowered and confident in myself and my abilities. In these moments, you start to realize your why. Labels started as a negative thing but you’ll eventually realize that it’s your motivation. As a person with learning disabilities, I have a mindset of proving the naysayers wrong! You are capable to do anything that is in your heart! Don’t let what people say affect your work ethic. I believe that a higher power like God brings opportunities and people in your life for a reason. Try to find a second family that inspires and encourages you to look past your labels and be the best version of yourself! Then no obstacle will seem too big.
ABOUT ALLY! "Persistence is my middle name! I’m currently a high school senior and I plan to go to college for athletic training/physical therapy. Life isn't always so easy, but my mindset always make up for it!"